Broken Hill — the Silver City — has had its taps turned back on and residents are soaking up the knowledge their water supply is good for a few more decades.

Also happy is Cobalt Blue Holdings Limited (ASX: COB), which can now rely on a guaranteed 1.5 gigalitres of water diverted from the Murray River each year to its Thackaringa project via the Essential Water treatment plant.

Broken Hill itself will receive 37.4 megalitres of water a day from the controversial pipeline, which was put in action at the end of February at a cost of around $500 million to the NSW government.

To try to put it into some context, 37 million litres would support around 370,000 cattle a day, according to Agriculture Victoria.

It’s about 13.65 gigalitres a year.

Now Cubbie Station has licences for 460 gigalitres per year, so it’s not a lot in the context of Australia’s great water extravagances. But Broken Hill’s – and Cobalt Blue’s – new water is the hottest in the country right now.

Since the 1950s, Broken Hill has taken water from the Menindee Lakes – yes, those lakes:

About eight months before the fish started dying, The Guardian reported there’s was a theory that WaterNSW were emptying the lakes “to build the case for a new proposed pipeline”.

The NSW Government, it said, was “investigating a plan to hold less water” in the Lakes, with the ultimate aim of making more water available to the Murray-Darling’s southern basin.


One way or the other, the water’s leaving the Menindee Lakes 90km southeast of Broken Hill, but there’s now enough at the pick-up point at Wentworth to see 13.65 gigalitres a year pumped back 200km north back up to Broken Hill.

That, Cobalt Blue’s CEO Joe Kaderavek says in a release to the ASX today, “significantly de-risks” its Thackaringa project, and will service its cobalt processing and refining needs.

“Cobalt Blue Holdings Limited extends our congratulations to WaterNSW and their project partners John Holland and MPC Group for the successful construction and Commissioning of the 270km water supply,” Mr Kaderavek says.